One of the most enduring sights of the North Strand Road is the Five Lamps – a decorative, commemorative gas lamp post with five lanterns most noted for giving directions and playfully determining the ‘true Dub’ from the blow in’s to the city. For more information see this great short video – The Five Lamps | A whole new world by Dublin City Public Librarys.
Probably one of the most fascinating facts about this street is that prior to 1673 this road was the waters edge and a very fashionable area to live in. After the North Lotts were filled in it a appears that there were both beautiful Georgian mid-sized houses and cottages flanking both sides of the streets. However on the night of the 31st of May 1941 the Germans dropped four bombs on the area, killing 28 people and injuring 90. About 300 houses were destroyed and and the ground has remained somewhat problematic ever since. Officially the German’s apologised and compensated the Irish government however the true reason for the attack is thought to be either as retaliation for aiding the rescue efforts after the Belfast bombings or to force Ireland’s hand out of its neutral stance. As you can see from the gallery below (images courtsey of Dublin City Libraries) there were many side streets of cottages that were destroyed or damaged beyond repair during the attacks.
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After the bombings Dublin City Corporation did what it could to clean up the area and provide housing for those displaced by the bombings. Unfortunatley the housing they erected were some of the now infamous Dublin City flats, wripping the original character out of the area in favor of high density, low amenity development. There is no doubt that conditions were much better in the new flats than they were in the small, old cottages but as we have seen over time – the flats brought their own set of problems.
Dublin 1 accompanying map – click on any of the pins for further information
View Dublin City Cottages – D 1.2 in a larger map
North Strand Road
At the corner of North Strand Road and Seville Place are two semi detached cottages. They are constructed of a type of brown stone with parapet detailing to hide the guttering and four fireplaces per cottage. One of the cottages has two frontal windows – one on either side of the door but I am not entirely sure which of the two it is. At first glance it appears to belong to the one on the left (No. 175) as its defence forces are significantly lower, however the placement of the shared chimney stack would indicate that the additional room belongs to the right hand cottage – No. 176. Its a mystery! A side window appears to have been tastefully bricked up on Number 176.
I believe that this terrace was known as Seville Lane from the 1911 census which at least predates them to before that time. They are also mentioned in the Griffiths Valuation of 1847 to 1864 but the map shows a very different picture to today so I’d doubt that the cottages that stand now are the same as those referred to in the Griffiths Valuation. There are 12 cottages that appear to be similar to the Dublin Artisan’s Dwelling Companies Type E cottage with rectangular fanlight over the door altough the two windows are located on either side of the main door. The boot scraper is absent and these cottages are built using redbrick similar to some of the Georgian buildings in the area. The builders have managed to include some ornamentation over the door and windows despite a low external eaves detail. Under the eaves are little evenly spaced bricks – presumably for more than just decorative purposes. The chimneys are quite ornate redbricked affairs and give the cottages a little air of grandure. I do not have any history of these cottages but I would love to know more! The end of Seville Terrace are the redbricked arches of the railway and underneath the line are several businesses. One little oddity is 14a Seville Terrace. It is very hard to classify this building – its stature gives it the air of a cottage yet from the outside it has the look of a cross between a barn, cottage and an old wall. It has stone walls, a large beam acting as lintel over the door and window, brown brick outlining an arch and redbrick coloring it in. Some bizarre decorative plasterwork around one window and render on the side elevation. It is on the market at the moment for €148,000 and the owner kindly provided me with the following history:
it was first a domestic residence in the 1960s and the extension (downstairs kitchen and bathroom) was completed in 1993. Prior to that, it was used as a coachhouse/stable attached to the house behind on Seville Place. Its age is about the same as the Seville Place property (Note: 101 Seville Place).
The interior is a whole different kettle of fish – olde worlde with exposed beams and timber pannelling upstairs, a bright kitchen, old cast iron radiators and a lovely sunny patio garden to the rear. Its a really charming curiosity – the brain wants to make sense out of the outside but the heart says love it for its individuality.
Shamrock Cottages has been my favourite little street of the Dublin 1 area. Tucked away behind the new flats on the south east side of North Strand road just before the canal is Shamrock Cottages. Again these are two story cottages but with some really beautiful detailing. They are mainly constructed of a yellow brick with an orange (terracotta) brick detailing around the doors and windows in that railway cottage style. There is also a line of this terracotta brick running the length of the terrace at the top of the windows on both the ground and first floors. The brick detailing under the exposed eaves is a little spoiled by the cables running along the walls but very few of us survive without electricity these days. There are 30 cottages in this street and the earliest mention of them that I have found is in the 1911 census which means that they survived the 1941 bombings in perfect shape.
It appears that these cottages were built by Dublin City Corporation (please correct me if I’m wrong) which would mean that they were built some time between 1887 and 1911.
North William Street
Numbers 8 to 15 North William Street are single storey terraced cottages to the front yet, two storey houses to the rear. The front of the cottages is in the Georgian style with a large window to one side of the door, a semi circular fanlight over the door and decorative plasterwork around the door. The bulk of the cottages are double deep with a valley between and four fireplaces per cottage.
It appears that this street was longer however several of the cottages were replaced by St. Agatha’s court which is itself now derelict and in the process of being demolished by Dublin City Council.
Aldborough HouseThe stunning abandoned building of Aldborough House on Portland Row and Killarney Street was a particularly sad part of this entire survey (see building at rear of five lamps image at the top of this article). I could not believe how a building as stunning as this could be allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair. The picture to the right shows just how close to the original building the council complex was built and how the house looked in 1837. It is now exposed to the elements as some rear windows appear to be missing and with a miniscule grant to preserve the building it seems doubtful that the situation will be significantly improved any time soon. I know there are hard times and everything is a cause but our historical architecture is something that once destroyed we can never get back. To view further information on what is happening with this building check out the discussion on archiseek – Aldborough House, Portland Row, Dublin .
No doubt many of the artisan workers in the nearby cottages would have worked on the Aldborough grounds and house, there may even have been cottages on the grounds.
Rutland Cottages were built on the gardens of an older house that was located off Buckingham Street, its garden backed on to Rutland Street Lower. I have heard it mentioned that the cottages that stand there today are not the originals. The cottages are split into two areas – a long straight street with the cottages on either end starting at Bella Street and ending at Summerhill Place.I had a strange chat with a young girl when locating these cottages – she mentioned that there were many stories to tell about Rutland Cottages but that they were stories that couldn’t be told. Many of the cottages are in quite a poor state as is evidenced by the general neglect in the area. Summerhill unfortunately is quite run down and even though my survey was early on a bright Saturday morning I was a little on edge in the area. Graffiti, and not the artful type is scrawled on every wall with windows and doors boarded up when a cottage is vacant. One of the cottages on the street stands out as the owner is clearly house proud despite all – the little white cottage at the top of the street with its neat postbox, hanging baskets and garden bench is like a beacon of hope.
The cottages on this street are of the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Companies Type A variety with just one window to one side of the main door, a boot scraper at the door and very little ornamentation beyone the rectangular fanlight over the door.
Around the corner there appears to be another offshoot of the Rutland Cottages – a little courtyard style area with just 8 cottages arranged four on one side and four on the other and backing onto the main Rutland Cottages Street. Both streets seem to have the same name and the numbers don’t clash so clearly they are taken as the same estate though there is no direct access from one to the other.
The houses around the corner on Summerville Place and Rutland Street Lower are also worth noting as they appear to be the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Companies Type E though again here – many of the dwellings are boarded up and appear to be in a poor state of repair. The old National School on Rutland Street adds to the general sense of abandonment around the area. It is a large old redbrick building that was vacated in 2007 as the school moved to a new purpose built building around the corner at Sean MacDermott Street. It is unfortunate but understandable that the old building could not be brought up to standards especially as it was the location for the ‘Give up yer auld sins’ documentary. Who knows what the fate of this slightly eery building will be now.
The final article on Dublin 1 will be published next Wednesday – its looking more like Friday!
Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the project, if there is incorrect information I would be delighted to hear the correct version and amend the article. My hope is to actively promote community participation so I can gather as much information as possible.